Recently I have been trying to cultivate a hyper-awareness of the things that bring me joy in life. Whenever I catch myself feeling especially happy or content with life, I quickly jot down what is giving me that feeling.
Last night I made a list of the things that regularly bring me joy. This list included writing, drawing, playing piano, coding, building websites, making apps, spending time with family, working out, traveling, and being outdoors. Each of these brings me joy on a regular basis.
As I finished writing this list, I had a realization:
Right now my main priority in life is saving money as fast as possible, but the only reason I’m doing so is to have more time to spend on that list of things that brings me joy.
In an ideal world, I would wake up as early (or late) as I want and spend hours making music, writing blog posts, building apps, working out, and spending time outside. But the only way to sustain this type of lifestyle long-term is to have enough passive income so that I don’t have to spend most of my waking hours at a 9-5 job.
Hence my obsession with personal finance. Money is the fuel needed to power my true aspirations in life. I don’t aim to be a member of the 1% net worth club. I’m not hungry for the houses and the cars of the upper class. I’m hungry for freedom.
By focusing on how I can increase my income, reduce my expenses, and invest wisely to grow my wealth, I’m really just attempting to gain enough passive income to fuel my dream life.
This is something people of all ages must realize (especially 20-somethings): Personal finance is not a boring topic your rich uncle Joe tries to talk to you about at family reunions. Personal finance holds the key to unlocking your ideal life.
If you really want to spend more time doing what you love, you have to get your finances on lock down. You have to set up systems that force you to save money. A lot of money.
To any 20-something out there who holds the belief “You might as well spend money because you can’t take it with you when you’re gone” or “money can’t buy happiness”, you’re setting yourself up for a life full of hardship and financial struggle.
Yes, money alone cannot buy happiness. But money is the most powerful tool on earth you can use to create a life overflowing with happiness thanks to the freedom it can buy.
Try this simple exercise: write down a list of things that genuinely make you happy on a regular basis. Maybe this includes spending time with family, friends, traveling, going outdoors, creating things, meditating, or whatever else. You know what brings you joy. Stare at this list and think about how much time you have each day to do these things. You probably wish you had more time to do these things.
Well I have good news: you can use money to gain the freedom to spend more time doing these things.
This is the greatest secret among bloggers in the personal finance community: We don’t love money, we love the time it can buy. Money is simply fuel to power big dreams. We all have aspirations, things we want to do, ways we truly want to spend our days, but the only way to gain the time to pursue these big dreams is to prioritize money.
Get a pile of money in the bank. Create passive income streams. Save enough money so that when the rent and utility bills come knocking at your door, you can make them go away with your savings and get back to doing what you love.
The message I am preaching is simple: Everyone has a list of things they love doing in life. If you want to spend every waking day only doing this list of things, prioritize your finances. Use money as the fuel to power your true aspirations in life.
Zach is the author behind Four Pillar Freedom, a blog that teaches you how to build wealth and gain freedom in life.
Zach's favorite free financial tool he's been using since 2015 to manage his net worth is Personal Capital. Each month he uses their free Investment Checkup tool and Retirement Planner to track his investments and ensure that he's on the fast track to financial freedom.
Although the bulk of his net worth is invested in index funds, his favorite place to invest in individual stocks is M1 Finance, a site that allows you to build a custom portfolio of stocks for free.
His favorite way to save money each month on his recurring bills is by using Trim, a free financial app that negotiates lower cable, internet, and phone bills with any provider on your behalf.
His favorite place to find new personal finance articles to read is Collecting Wisdom, a site that collects the best personal finance articles floating around the web on a daily basis.
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